Saturday, December 13, 2008

Shroud of Turin News - October/November 2008

Here is my Shroud of Turin News for October/November 2008. The previous issue was September 2008. Articles are in

[Above (click to enlarge): Entombment of Jesus, by Nicholas of Verdun, 1181, Klosterneuburg Abbey church, Vienna. See about this at BSTS Newsletter No. 67, June 2008.]

reverse chronological order (most recent uppermost). My comments are in bold.

Discovery Channel's "UNWRAPPING THE SHROUD: NEW EVIDENCE" Re-Opens One Of Christianity's Greatest Mysteries, Reality TV News, Nov 28, 2008 -... The Shroud of Turin is one of the great enduring mysteries of all time, with its authenticity debated for years. Many believe it's the burial cloth of Jesus and the only physical link to Him, while others maintain that it is nothing more than an elaborate hoax. In fact, in 1988, a team of scientists radiocarbon dated the Shroud and concluded it was fake, dating back to the Middle Ages (1290-1360), long after Jesus was crucified. The preponderance of the evidence is overwhelming that the 1988 radiocarbon-dating of the Shroud to 1290-1360 was wrong. The above 1181 Entombment of Jesus by Nicholas of Verdun (1130-1205), like the Pray Manuscript (1192-1195), is clearly based on the Shroud (note the distinctive crossed hands and shroud), but is at least 109 years earlier than the earliest possible radiocarbon date 1290! And that's where the story stood, unchallenged -- until now. Discovery Channel's one-hour original special UNWRAPPING THE SHROUD: NEW EVIDENCE attempts to unravel the truth about the cloth on Sunday, December 14, 2008 from 10-11PM ET/PT. The special event features the story of Ray Rogers, a respected chemist from the Los Alamos National Laboratory in New Mexico and member of the original team of scientists who examined the Shroud. Rogers came across a paper written by a husband and wife from Columbus, Ohio that claimed the 1988 radiocarbon dating was inaccurate. That was Joe Marino and Sue Benford and their paper, Benford, M.S. & Marino, J.G.. "Discrepancies in the radiocarbon dating area of the Turin shroud," Chemistry Today, Vol. 26, No. 4, July/August 2008, pp.4-12:

"ABSTRACT Recent research reported new evidence suggesting the radiocarbon dating of the Turin Shroud was invalid due to the intrusion of newer material in the sampling area. This evidence included the detection of anomalous surface contaminates in specimens from the sampling area. This paper reports new data from an unpublished study conducted by the Shroud of Turin Research Project (STURP) team in 1978 that supports the above-referenced research findings. Additionally, this paper reports evidence supporting the identification of replacement material in the Carbon-14 (C-14) sampling region along with previously-unreported radiographic findings, corroborative textile evidence from the adjacent `Raes' sample, blinded-expert analysis of the Zurich laboratory C-14 sub-sample, independent microscopic confirmation of surface contaminates in Holland cloth/C-14 region, and historical restoration information. Based on these new data, the authors conclude that the radiocarbon sampling area was manipulated during or after the 16th Century and that further testing on the Shroud is warranted." (Benford, M.S. & Marino, J.G., 2008, "Discrepancies in the radiocarbon dating area of the Turin shroud," Chemistry Today, Vol. 26, No. 4, July-August, pp.4-12, p.4).

See online Benford, M. S. & Marino, J., "New Historical Evidence Explaining the `Invisible Patch' in the 1988 C-14 Sample Area of the Turin Shroud,", 2005. According to the couple, the test sample that was used had been taken from a section of the Shroud that had been repaired in the 16th Century, skewing the results. Expecting to prove this

[Above (click to enlarge): Medieval Reweaving the Shroud of Turin]

couple wrong, Rogers went back to examine the sample of the Shroud he tested years earlier, and what he found astonished even himself. In his last days (he had been battling cancer), Rogers made a video -- which before now has never been seen -- detailing his conclusions. This is a pleasant surprise. It promises to be very significant, in this the 20th anniversary year of the radiocarbon-dating of the Shroud. Shot entirely in high-definition, UNWRAPPING THE SHROUD: NEW EVIDENCE examines Rogers' findings and how they may unlock a mystery thousands of years in the making. UNWRAPPING THE SHROUD: NEW EVIDENCE is filled with twists and turns, science and faith, and iron-clad evidence that may turn out to be less than meets the eye. Presumably that "iron-clad evidence" which turns out "to be less than meets the eye" is the radiocarbon-dating of the Shroud to the Middle Ages (1290-1360) . ...

Important New Scientific Article Added, The Shroud of Turin Website, November 26, 2008 ... The website has been updated and an important new article has been added to the Scientific Papers & Articles page. Co-authored by noted Shroud scholar Joseph Marino and retired NASA scientist Edwin Prior, the article is titled "Chronological History of the Evidence for the Anomalous Nature of the C-14 Sample Area of the Shroud of Turin." It provides a detailed and compelling summary of all the scientific evidence supporting the theory that an anomalous sample was used for the 1988 C-14 dating of the Shroud. One of the co-authors, Joe Marino, emailed me that this is:

"A significant new article ... which presents all the compelling evidence that indicates that the sample used to date the Shroud in 1988 was invalid, has just been published. One of the authors, Ed Prior, is a retired 40 year NASA scientist who is an agnostic, so he can't be accused of being religiously biased in favor of the Shroud's authenticity"

What is found particularly interesting in that paper is at page 14 (of 40):

Entry: #28 Date: 2000 Data Category: Possibility or direct evidence of invisible reweaving Evidence: Ronald Hatfield, a scientist at Beta Analytic, the world's largest radiocarbon dating service, performed a theoretical C-14 calculation that supports the theory of a 16th century patch. A merging of threads from AD 1500 into a 2,000 year old piece of linen would augment the C-14 content, such that a 60/40 ratio of new material to old, determined by mass, would result in a C-14 age of approximately AD 1210. Source: Beta Analytic Laboratories (Miami, Florida): Personal communication to M.Sue Benford and Joseph Marino June 9, 2000 ("Evidence For The Skewing of the C-14 Dating of the Shroud of Turin" by Joseph G. Marino and M. Sue Benford, Comments: The Hatfield calculation correlates very closely with the Oxford mean date of AD 1200 as reported in Nature and with the observed ratio of original versus medieval material in the C-14 sample." (Marino, J.G. & Prior, E.J., "Chronological History of the Evidence for the Anomalous Nature of the C-14 Sample Area of the Shroud of Turin," November 2008, p.14.

The evidence just keeps mounting against the 1988 radiocarbon-dating claim that the Shroud was a "fake, dating back to the Middle Ages (1290-1360)." That is, it is not the Shroud that was the "fake" but the radiocarbon-dating!

Shroud of Turin astonishes chemist in a new test, inspires a Discovery Channel special, Orlando Sentinel, Hal Boedeker, Nov 25, 2008 ... A dying chemist took another look at the Shroud of Turin -- and came to surprising conclusions. His story will be detailed in a new Discovery Channel special with the working title "Unwrapping the Shroud: New Evidence." The program will premiere at 10 p.m. Dec. 14.

[Left: Ray Rogers (1927- 2005): Shroud University]

The chemist, Ray Rogers, had worked at Los Alamos National Laboratory. In 1988, he took part in tests on the shroud. The results revealed that it came from the Middle Ages and couldn't be the burial cloth of Jesus. But Rogers took another look at the cloth after suggestions that the test had been skewed. According to Discovery, "What he found astonished even himself. In his last days (he had been battling cancer), Rogers made a video -- which before now has never been seen -- detailing his conclusions." One of the earlier news items announcing the forthcoming Discovery Channel special. Rogers, even though he was pro-authenticity of the Shroud, was a particularly hard-headed, sceptical, scientist, who for years dismissed the re-weaving theory out-of-hand. For him to be "astonished" by this new evidence for re-weaving, means it must be very strong that the Shroud sample radiocarbon-dated in 1988 was re-woven with 16th century cloth and threads, thus adding new carbon and thus skewing the radiocarbon-date to the 14th century of what might well have been a 1st century linen cloth.

'Turin Shroud' set to come to Tamworth, Tamworth Herald, November 24, 2008 ... Tamworth people are about to get the opportunity to make their own decision, when one of only four exact replicas of the priceless relic comes to town this weekend.

[Right: Prof. Edward Hall (1924- 2001), Dr. Michael Tite and Prof. Robert Hedges (left to right), on 13 October 1988 triumphantly announcing the Shroud was "conclusively" radiocarbon- dated to "1260-1390!": Ian Wilson, "The Blood and the Shroud," 1998, pl.3b]

Debate continues to rage about the authenticity of the Turin Shroud, which bears the image of a crucified man with markings identical to biblical accounts of the wounds Jesus' bore at his death. Millions of Christians throughout the world are convinced the shroud is the genuine burial cloth of Jesus of Nazareth, although extensive carbon dating on fragments of the original seem to suggest a cunning medieval con. Another journalist who chooses to remain in blissful ignorance, mindlessly regurgitating 20-year-old news that the 1988 radiocarbon-dating suggested that the Shroud was "a cunning medieval con," while ignoring (or denying) the mountain of evidence that the Shroud really is the burial sheet of Jesus. Presumably they just don't want the Shroud to be genuine because, like the late Prof. Edward Hall of the Oxford laboratory that dated the Shroud admitted, "he was not disappointed in the result" because:

"'I have to admit I am an agnostic and I don't want at my time of life to have to change my ideas." (Radford, The Guardian, October 14, 1988).

Pam Moon will be showing the replica at St John the Baptist RC Church, Tamworth on Sunday, November 30. It will be on display from 12noon until 5pm and Pam will be giving a talk about the shroud in the church at 4pm. That's Tamworth, near Birmingham, England. An example of how Shroud replica exhibitions are constantly going on around the world.

Art and Science Converge in State Museum Exhibit, UANews, November 3, 2008. A new Arizona State Museum exhibition showcases scientific research through the eyes of an artist ...

[Above: Magnified linen fibers from the Shroud of Turin, image by Rachel Freer, visiting research fellow, Arizona State Museum]

Magnified linen fibers from the Shroud of Turin. It had been requested that the specific sample radio carbon dated by the Arizona Accelerator Mass Spectrometry Laboratory be examined for authenticity. This is very interesting. Presumably this request was part of the Oxford Radiocarbon Accelerator Unit's investigation into what could have gone wrong with its 1988 radiocarbon-dating of the Shroud. But because radiocarbon-dating necessitates burning the sample to reduce it to pure carbon, this particular sample cannot be one of the "specific" samples radio-carbon dated by the Arizona lab in 1988. Polarized Light Microscopy was used to confirm that the major fiber content of the sample is linen. Note: the MAJOR fiber content of the sample is linen. That is, the sample was not pure linen but was contaminated with other threads. This alone should discredit the 1988 "medieval" radiocarbon-date and confirm the Benford-Marino reweave theory. Scientific images are used to help researchers understand the chemical make-up, composition, texture, age, geology and other components of an object or material being studied. But when viewed through the eye of an artist, these images can take on another realm of importance, that of structural, compositional and vividly colorful beauty. Thanks to David Killick, professor of anthropology at The University of Arizona, and Kress Conservation Fellow Rachel Freer, some of the most visually astounding and scientifically important images taken at the UA have been put together as an art exhibit, which opens Nov. 8 at the Arizona State Museum. Researchers at the UA have been using many types of imaging technologies to reveal the structure of clothing threads, such as those found in the Shroud of Turin or to view the radiation emitted from quasars obtained by scanning a portion of the sky - neither of which is accessible to the unaided human eye. It is truly serendipitous that the University of Arizona has at this very time, just before the Benford-Marino reweave theory gets a major airing on the Discovery Channel, exhibited one of its 1988 samples of the Shroud, with the admission that the samples used to date the Shroud between 1260-1390 AD was contaminated with other fibres which would, if it were any other radiocarbon-dating but the Shroud, render scientifically invalid that radiocarbon-date.

Shroud of Turin expert has presentation, will travel, Florida Catholic, October 13, 2008 ... Gerri Bauer ... DELAND |

[Right: This image is a `negative' version of a photograph of the Shroud of Turin: Shroud Scope: Enrie Negative Vertical]

Florida resident John C. Iannone considers the study of the Shroud of Turin the "greatest CSI case in history." This is a very important point. Just as a pattern of forensic evidence can uniquely identify an individual, so does the pattern of at least 23 wounds and other markings on the Shroud of Turin, uniquely identify the image on it as that of Jesus. "You start to get the idea there's only one person in history" whose image is imprinted on a centuries-old cloth," he told a crowd of more than 100 gathered at St. Peter Parish in DeLand Sept. 23 to hear his presentation, "The Mystery of the Holy Shroud: A Case for Authenticity." For example, "only one person in history" is known to be crowned with thorns as both Jesus (Mt 27:29; Mk 15:17; Jn 19:2) and the man on the Shroud were (see 5. He had been `crowned' with thorns of Re: There is compelling evidence it is the burial cloth of Christ, or a man crucified during that time #1). ... Iannone ... started studying the shroud about 30 years ago. In 1998 he wrote a book, "The Mystery of the Shroud of Turin: New Scientific Evidence," to help explain the subject in layperson's terms, then was invited to view the shroud in Turin during an international conference. I wholeheartedly recommend Iannone's book as being one of the best introductions to the Shroud. Seeing the cloth "was a defining moment in my life," he told the audience. .... His goal in each lecture is to explain the scientific evidence for authenticity in a manner easily understandable by people who aren't scientists. At the St. Peter's lecture, he showed slides that illustrated his point-by-point clarifications about specific aspects of study, such as the carbon testing of the 1980s that pinpointed the cloth's age as medieval. He cited early findings from the early 2000s that fibers from a medieval patch had intruded into fibers of the original cloth from which samples were removed for testing. A microphotograph detected the reweaving, he said. More about the re-weaving! Iannone's book has a section "Test Samples Taken from the Restored Area?" but being written in 1998, it does not have this latest information. He discussed such things as blood type, postmortem blood flow, median nerve damage, specific pollens from various flowers and their geographic distribution, and light and dark spots believed to illustrate rigor mortis setting in while Jesus was on the cross. He also addressed cultural aspects, burial customs and art history relating to how Jesus has been visually depicted over the centuries. ... Iannone said he finds a great deal of interest among people whenever he presents the program, not just about the shroud but about spirituality and religion in general. "People are struggling to get back to the roots of their religion in a very complicated world, especially with all the things that are happening today," he said. "For me, the shroud supports the fundamental points of Christianity." The Shroud is independent archaeological evidence that the Gospel's description of the scourging, crucifixion and resurrection is accurate:

"The extent to which the Shroud confirms the accuracy of even small incidents reported in the Gospels means that more reliance can be placed on those details which the Shroud is unable to confirm. So far as the Shroud is concerned, the evidence of the stains points with certainty towards their having been made by the body of Jesus." (Hoare, 1978, "Testimony of the Shroud," pp.41-42).

"But it is the bearing out of the New Testament evidence that is much the most significant. ... the light thrown by the Shroud can help us to understand how apparently discrepant accounts e.g., of the grave-cloths, are in fact compatible. ... the genuineness of the Shroud would shake is the theory that the whole story of the empty tomb is an invention of the early church. ... the Shroud unquestionably adds weight to the universal witness of the New Testament that there was a physical ... aspect to this event." (Robinson, 1978, "The Shroud and the New Testament," pp.77-78).

The quotes below (emphasis italics original, emphasis bold mine) are hyperlinked to references above.

Posted 13 December 2008. Updates 22 November 2023.

"Even the use of the Shroud is explained, as there was no time for the proper burial rites because they obtained Jesus's body only shortly before the Sabbath; and the surprisingly fine texture of the material used for wrapping up the crucified man's body is explained by the reported wealth of Joseph of Arimathea. In all these points there is remarkable corroboration between the two sources of evidence, so that each seems to stand as guarantor of the other. Under Jewish law, a single witness had little value; at least two were required (Deuteronomy 17:6 and 19:15; Numbers 35:30). On these grounds, in view of the agreement of two widely different types of evidence, the written and the photographic, the historicity of Jesus and his Crucifixion may be taken as proven. Most appraisals of the Shroud have begun with an assumption of the complete accuracy of the Gospel accounts, and have tried to make the stains fit them. This has led to doubts of the Shroud's authenticity when certain stains, or the existence of the Shroud itself, have failed to match a particular description in a Gospel. However, the Shroud is material evidence that is available, and the marks on it can be seen, and prove themselves to have been formed on the day of the Crucifixion. It is therefore the Shroud which should stand as the measure of the accuracy of the Gospel stories, for there was plenty of opportunity for alteration and distortion in the decades before the traditions were first written down. The extent to which the Shroud confirms the accuracy of even small incidents reported in the Gospels means that more reliance can be placed on those details which the Shroud is unable to confirm. So far as the Shroud is concerned, the evidence of the stains points with certainty towards their having been made by the body of Jesus." (Hoare, R., 1978, "Testimony of the Shroud," St. Martin's Press: New York NY, pp.41-42).

"The Holy Shroud of Turin - revered by Catholics for centuries - is a piece of linen woven between AD1260 and 1390. Therefore the image it bears cannot be the imprint of the bloodstained body of the crucified Jesus Christ. The news, confirming rumours and leaks which began circulating from the first weeks of radiocarbon dating tests on the shroud, was announced yesterday by Cardinal Anastasio Ballestrero, the Archbishop of Turin. He said that scientists at laboratories in Zurich, Arizona and Oxford had checked the ages of historically authenticated samples of cloth and cuttings from the shroud and were '95 per cent' certain of their findings. The shroud, 14ft 3in long and 3ft 7in wide, bears a faint yellowish negative image of the front and back of a man whipped, speared, nailed to a cross and crowned with thorns. Cardinal Ballestrero said that the church had never claimed that the shroud was a holy relic: its symbolic importance remained. 'The church believes in the image and not in the history because this image of Jesus Christ in fact is very interesting and the people believe deeply in Jesus,' the cardinal said. At a press conference in London, Dr Michael Tite, keeper of the British Museum research laboratories, who masterminded the three tests, and Professor Edward Hall and Dr Robert Hedges of Oxford, who conducted the British radiocarbon dating, all confirmed that there could be no serious doubt in the results. They also denied knowledge of any of the 'leaks' which dogged the experiment. These, they said, were the result of informed guesses by the press. Their finding, they said, was consistent with the known historical evidence for the shroud, which was first recorded in about 1389 by the Bishop of Troyes. He described it as a cunning forgery and said his predecessor had met the forger. Professor Hall, who heads the Oxford research laboratory in archaeology and the history of art, said he was not disappointed in the result. 'I have to admit I am an agnostic and I don't want at my time of life to have to change my ideas.' But that is not likely to be the end of the story: there are still mysteries wrapped in the shroud. Pathologists, artists and scientists have been puzzled at how a 14th century forger could have simulated complex details such as gravity's effect on blood flows from wounds in the hands, feet and side. 'Essentially we have an incomprehensible, extraordinary object. We now know its age but not its origin,' Professor Luigi Gonnella, scientific adviser to Cardinal Ballestrero, said in Turin yesterday. 'It is not a painting, it has no pigments. We know the red stains are blood, but we do not know of any mechanism in the Middle Ages that could put blood on a cloth.' He said church officials are angered by claims that because the shroud has a medieval date it must be a fraud, a fake or a forgery. 'A forgery means it was made for the specific purpose of deceiving people. This is possible but there is no proof of that. It could be a medieval icon.'" (Radford, T., 1988, "Shroud dating leaves 'forgery' debate raging," The Guardian, October 14).

"But it is the bearing out of the New Testament evidence that is much the most significant. It does not of course prove the Gospels are, or set out to be, exact historical records. The well-known differences between them remain, though I am convinced that the light thrown by the Shroud can help us to understand how apparently discrepant accounts e.g., of the grave-cloths, are in fact compatible. The first thing that the genuineness of the Shroud would shake is the theory that the whole story of the empty tomb is an invention of the early church. Despite its advocacy by Bultmann and other distinguished scholars I have never regarded this in any case as in the least degree probable. The story is firmly entrenched in all the strands of the Gospel tradition, and I believe that Paul's statement of the common apostolic teaching, received after his conversion, that Christ `was buried ... and was raised to life on the third day' points to a connection between the Resurrection and the tomb (not merely the appearances) which takes us back to the very first years of the Christian movement. The survival of the shroud would simply add weight to the very strong presumption that the tomb of Jesus was found empty - though how it became empty neither the Gospels nor, I believe, the Shroud tell us. But somehow the body disappeared. The traditional challenge, that the authorities had only to produce the body to discredit the whole message that Jesus was risen, must, I think, be taken more seriously than I have tended to suppose. The argument certainly does not hold the other way round. The mere fact that it was not produced can never prove it could not have been produced, any more than the absence of Hitler's corpse to this day proves that he rose from the dead. But if a lifeless cadaver had been produced which could irrefutably have been identified with Jesus of Nazareth, then the proclamation that he was not dead but alive would have seemed as unconvincing to Jewish as to modern presuppositions. The Christian church would never have got off the ground. Positively this proves nothing about the mode or meaning of `resurrection'. But the Shroud unquestionably adds weight to the universal witness of the New Testament that there was a physical and not merely a spiritual aspect to this event." (Robinson, J.A.T., 1978, "The Shroud and the New Testament," in Jennings, P., ed., "Face to Face with the Turin Shroud," Mayhew-McCrimmon: Great Wakering UK, pp.69-81, pp.77-78).